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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Those Who Wish Me Dead Review: A Blazing Act By Angelina Jolie

Recently in Hollywood, there has been an emergence of films in which the female lead fights back the evils of society or overcomes their personal hardships – as seen in works like Wonder Woman 1984 and Nomadland.

With a formidable actor Angelina Jolie headlining Those Who Wish Me Dead (TWWMD), it promises to be an intriguing bottle-neck situation with thrill and nail-biting moments. Since Taylor Sheridan is the director – who has also written gritty but gripping films like Sicario, we are excited to see how he delivers in this film.

The film centres around Hannah (Jolie) is a smokejumper who’s perched in a watchtower high above the Montana wilderness. She is still reeling from the loss of three lives,

She soon encounters Connor (Finn Little), a skittish boy who’s bloodied, traumatized and on the run in the remote forest.

As Hannah tries to bring him to safety, she’s unaware of the real dangers to follow: two relentless killers hunting Connor, and a fiery blaze consuming everything in its path.

As promised in the trailer, visuals are definitely a strong selling point of the film. The VFX, wide camera shots of the forest and all these aspects make Those Who Want Me Dead a spectacular watch.

Sheridan, as a filmmaker, makes the burning trees and surroundings a part of the narrative. It creates this sense of enigma and impending danger. Observing this spectacle on the big screen will surely be a treat.

In fact, a special mention goes to the background score. The pulsating music keeps the viewer on edge each time and plays a major role in maintaining the film’s atmosphere.

A sincere attempt is made in setting the intensity of TWWMD. For the first half of the film, the slow, gradual building of tension is built.

However, what brings the film down is some cliche moments and a dragged out climax to reinforce the heroism of the main character – almost like a typical 90s thriller.

Also, the storyline is quite simplistic. We’ve had such survival thrillers before in Hollywood. Maybe perhaps not in such a setting, but the cat-and-mouse chasing as such is not completely novel.

Perhaps the intriguing factor is how the assassins are quite unexpected. Going by their appearances one wouldn’t think that they could be villains.

Furthermore, even though we become aware of why Connor, the main protagonist is caught up in the circumstances he’s in – very little is known about the actual situation which led to that.

I feel more context should’ve been given to us as audiences, rather than just a dialogue, to make us comprehend and resonate with the situation.

With regards to the performances, Angelina Jolie is splendid as Hannah. She portrays the traumatised shade as well as the astute, protective side to the character. It’s quite unique to see her as a smokejumper and her role in many ways provides a voice for those in the valiant profession.

Finn Little as Connor Casserly is mature and compelling as a young boy caught up in a whirlwind of circumstances.

His character is well-written and even though he’s at a vulnerable age, he is sharp and not swayed by emotions.

Standout performances also include that of Nicholas Hault and Aidan Gillan who play the sinister assassins.

Nicholas, in particular, is calm and cool-headed. It is this chilling demeanour that terrifies the audience and one can sense fear whenever the two actors are on-screen.

On the whole, it’s been a while since we took a trip to the cinemas. We’ve missed an edge-of-the-seat thriller with great splendour to complement it.

Whilst Those Who Wish Me Dead might night be a critically acclaimed piece of cinema, it’s nonetheless an entertaining one enriched by some enjoyable visual aesthetics.

With yet another great act by Angelina Jolie, it will surely appeal to fans.

⭐⭐⭐ (3/5 stars)

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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